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Mendocino County Today: November 20, 2012

BONES ROADHOUSE employees are reeling after their beloved, fabulous, authentic, iconic, local money-generating bar-b-que restaurant was closed twice this weekend under a “keeper's levy” through the efforts of the owner of the Shoreline restaurant.  This is the tenth time Bones was raided in the last few months.  If this continues or escalates Bones won't survive to celebrate another New Years. This is a shame, because in a town with extremely limited opportunities Bones Roadhouse employs over 25 local citizens, many of whom have families with small children whom they support by working there.  The pirate crew at Bones is actually a dedicated group of employees working hard behind the scenes to ensure a high-quality and unique dining experience. How about the Gualala Community itself?  Let's face it; Bones is a destination restaurant.  At Bones we see a countless number of smiling faces proclaiming Bones Roadhouse and its authentic Texas style wood pit bar-b-que as their reason for driving or riding to Gualala.  This is good business for everyone in town. Our counsel to the owner of the Shoreline is this:  Stop the retaliation.  Focus on your own business and get going with some good, unique food that people can afford and make your own destination restaurant.  We would all be happier and healthier. — Bones Crew, Gualala

WE NEED A LOCAL COURTHOUSE. If we lose the court on the coast now, we may never get it back. There is now a website set up for you to leave your comments, PLEASE DO. Going over the hill to Ukiah for court hearings is a bad idea. Think of the gas costs, and a simple appearance could take up your whole day. The meeting about it is on November 29, at 5:30pm at Fort Bragg Town Hall. Show up if you can. In the meantime, go to this website and leave your comments so you can be on the record: You actions are needed now! — Deirdre Lamb, Fort Bragg

BRUCE McEWEN had been homeless prior to his arrival at the AVA three years ago, but had commenced living and working on the property I rent from old friends not far from central Boonville. I'd told him if he needed a place out of the rain he could stay temporarily with us in Boonville, and one day he simply appeared with his bedroll. He'd come from the Hospitality House in Fort Bragg from where he'd reported to us on Ten Mile Court When he arrived in Boonville, McEwen vaguely alluded to having been threatened by street people who could no longer menace him if he moved an hour away to the Anderson Valley. Temporary seemed to become permanent until one morning in late August of this year, McEwen got up and left. We next heard from him when he wrote from Garberville, but since then not a word. I hope he will eventually become a roving correspondent, which is how we first encountered him. He'd sent us stories from the road, then from nearby Fort Bragg, then he appeared in Boonville where he pitched a tent in my yard while he made a derelict trailer more or less winter habitable. We called him “HG,” as in Homeless Guy. The Major, simultaneous to HG's arrival, adopted an orphaned cat he called “HC,” as in Homeless Cat. Like many serious drunks, McEwen sober was not only companionable he was a skilled handyman and house painter. He did a lot of work on the place, for which he was fairly compensated. But with an alcoholic you always have in the back of your mind, “Am I helping this guy or helping to kill him?” So, that morning at the end of August, just about three years after he'd arrived in Boonville, McEwen left without a word. Did I offend him somehow? It seems so. I'd had to “warn and advise” him about unhappy episodes in downtown Boonville where McEwen came to be banned by all the establishments that serve alcohol. Which is all of them. For a convivial drinking man, but one who goes from convivial to bellicose in two beers, to be 86'd from the sparse nightlife of a very small town was probably unendurable for the guy. Boonville businesses tolerated McEwen's scattergun verbal assaults much longer and much more patiently than businesses in larger towns would have tolerated them. On our end, two small houses on one acre, sharing space with a serious drunk wasn't easy, but more difficult for The Major with whom McEwen shared the essential facilities of bathroom and stove, and how many people would endure a drunk — two drunks one night — crashing around in their kitchen at 2am, scorching frying pans and leaving the burners on? One morning The Major stumbled half-awake out of his bedroom to find an attractive young black woman making herself a cup of coffee in his kitchen. “Oh, hello,” she said as casually as if she were standing in a Starbucks, casually asking The Major, “Who are you?” McEwen said he'd rescued this particular unmoored waif from the perils of the Ukiah railroad tracks, an open air homeless retreat. “She just needed a place out of the weather for the night,” McEwen said. The young woman reappeared in The Major's house several times over the months, coming and going like she was a part-time resident. We eventually learned that she was, and may still be, the peripatetic love interest of a Boonville man whom McEwen stoutly maintained, “wasn't good enough for her.” We co-existed, our odd menagerie, albeit with the added burden of fielding periodic complaints about McEwen's Boonville rampages from bar and restaurant owners, culminating, finally, in a terrible verbal assault McEwen launched on a wedding party at the Boonville Hotel that left the bride in tears. And a very unhappy Deputy Walker to sort out. We think McEwen left Boonville pre-emptively, that he assumed he was getting the heave-ho for the Hotel debacle so he left before we could give him the bounce. I admired McEwen's gifts, especially his stenographic gift. He got court dialogue down, live, better than anybody I've ever read, and because of his gift I let him slide. And slide and slide, not that I was his parent and he was my child, but in the spirit of William Faulkner who famously said, “The writer's only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. It anguishes him so much he must get rid of it. He has no peace until then. Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' is worth any number of old ladies.” Of course the AVA isn't art, but McEwen came pretty close to art a couple of times, a claim most artists, especially the prose ones, can seldom make. I thought McEwen's stories, in the Faulkner sense, were worth more than a wedding party. But when he'd sobered up the next morning after the Boonville Hotel smash-up, I think McEwen, a registered Republican who clung to conventional values throughout the serial disasters of his life, knew it was time to move on. Again.

COMMENT OF THE DAY #1: Put Yourself In Perspective. From the December issue of Harper's Magazine, Our Place in the Universe, by Alan Lightman:

The prize for exploring the greatest distance in space goes to a man named Garth Illingworth, who works in a ten-by-fifteen-foot office at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Illingworth studies galaxies so distant that their light has traveled through space for more than 13 billion years to get here...The most distant galaxy Illingworth has seen so far goes by the name UDFj-39546284 and was documented in early 2011. This galaxy is about 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles away from Earth, give or take.

COMMENT OF THE DAY #2: “So what is going on here? At the most basic level, Israel’s actions in Gaza are inextricably bound up with its efforts to create a Greater Israel that stretches from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the endless palaver about a two-state solution, the Palestinians are not going to get their own state, not least because the Netanyahu government is firmly opposed to it. The prime minister and his political allies are deeply committed to making the Occupied Territories a permanent part of Israel. To pull this off, the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza will be forced to live in impoverished enclaves similar to the Bantustans in white-ruled South Africa. Israeli Jews understand this quite well: a recent survey found that 58 per cent of them believe Israel already practices apartheid against the Palestinians.” (John Mersheimer)


JASON FRICK, 38, of McKinleyville, is the only inmate committed to state prison for 25 years to life out of Mendocino County who is eligible for a new sentence, said Mike Geniella, spokesman for Mendocino County DA David Eyster. Frick received 25 to life last year in connection with a standoff with Mendocino County SWAT officers in which he pleaded guilty to possession of pipe bombs and being a felon with a weapon. At the time of his arrest, Frick was a fugitive from Humboldt County where he was wanted on suspicion of assault, stalking, burglary, drugs, and having a gun in a school zone. In the Mendocino County episode, Frick deployed a homemade bomb to keep officers at bay for 11 hours and, at one point, fired a shotgun into a ceiling of a Brooktrails house before being arrested. While Frick has a right to seek a reduction, prosecutors believe his sentence was fully litigated and don’t expect a change in the end result, Geniella said.


  1. November 20, 2012

    What a sad and discouraging story about Bruce McEwen.
    If he reads the AVA, he will know that I miss his work.

  2. Mike Jamieson November 21, 2012

    Since Bruce McEwen will likely see this, I’m passing on the news that John Stott died very recently, in the company of his daughter Jasmine. He spent his final two weeks at a rest home in Ukiah. John can be one of McEwen’s guardian angels now!

    • Sherry Austin February 6, 2013

      I hadn’t talked to John in about a year or so.. Time just slips away from us so quickly.. I was hoping to visit him on our way up to the Kate Wolf Festival last June, but my husband got sick and we had to cancel our trip.

      I met John shortly after I moved to Santa Cruz from Los Altos. I answered an ad that he had placed looking for a spot to bring his trailer. It ended up that I couldn’t legally accommodate the trailer, but I liked him right away, and he started working for me. He continued here for about 8 years or so, until he moved up North. We kept in touch sporadically.. I’d send pictures of the garden or we’d play phone tag for awhile until we’d finally connect. The last time we spoke, he told me about being diagnosed with prostate cancer. I worried about him. He said he needed to find another place for his trailer. I worried some more.

      Here are some things I know about John (in no particular order). He had a very kind and generous spirit. He was reliable and a hard worker. He was a good friend. He was a vegetarian. He was adopted and spent part of his youth in India. He knew a lot about horticulture, and although I’m a certified plant snob, he wasn’t… not that he didn’t have the chops and education to be if he wanted to. He respected me, and I, him. We got along well. He preferred world music to my folky brand, but indulged me when I’d break out the guitar to sing him a tune I’d just written. He preferred his front drive mower to my rear-drive… A couple years ago I bought one like his… Now I understand! He enjoyed his tea break in the afternoon.. always green tea and well, some special herbs.. Maybe a Kit-Kat bar… He was a good listener. He saw me through many difficult times just by being there and listening. He enjoyed working at the nursery and often talked to me about his boss Wendy. He thought we were kindred spirits of the plant world and should meet. I had a sense that John was happy being in an environment in which he felt comfortable being able to use his horticultural knowledge. I’m not exactly sure why he stopped working there, but as humans, we all have our failings, and I know John had his. He was sober most of the time I knew him, but I know it was a struggle. I got a sense from him that it had gotten harder since he’d moved North.

      There hasn’t been a Tuesday that goes by that I don’t think of him. I so enjoyed his company. I truly missed him when he moved from Santa Cruz.. I miss him all the more knowing I won’t be able to enjoy being in his company again. He left a mark in my garden and in my heart. If there’s a place we go when we leave this Earth.. I hope John has found a garden with a little table in the shade to enjoy his tea.

      Good-bye dear friend.

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